Where is the sugar hiding: 56 different names for sugar that are on our labels

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January 31, 2024

Ever feel puzzled about why certain foods taste unexpectedly sweet? It's not just you! Hidden sugars are sneaking into many foods we eat daily, and they're not always where you'd expect. If you need more help with cutting back on sugar, connect with the care team by self enrolling, calling us at (410) 348-1905 or sending us an email.

Just like salt and fat, most of the sugar in Americans’ diets come from processed foods. The less you have to do to get food ready for your plate, the more likely extra sugar has been added in. Watch this video on how Chrystal reads food labels and uncovers how healthy or unhealthy certain foods really are!

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How can I tell how much sugar I’m eating?

Using the nutrition label, you’ll notice serving information, total calories, nutrients and % daily value. All of these are great to look at to understand how much to eat and what nutrients you are getting from your food.

To find sugars, look for “Total Carbohydrates.” You’ve probably heard the word “carb” as in “I’ve got to cut my carbs so I can lose this weight” before. Carbs are short for carbohydrates. Sugar is one of three kinds of carbohydrate.

Fiber, starch & sugar

Fiber - is a good carb! Eating the recommended amount will help you feel full and later on help your body move out waste (remember to drink lots of water, too).

Starch - Non-green vegetables like potatoes and squash, grains like wheat and rice, legumes like peas and beans are all starches. These are important for nutrition, but to keep their sugar impact low choose to eat them “whole” instead of prepared. The closer to how they came off the plant, the better. For grains, look on the label of ingredients for “whole grain.”

Sugar - Fructose, lactose, dextrose, honey, molasses and high fructose syrup are just a handful of the ways you’ll see sugar in the ingredients of food. What matters more is checking for “Added sugar” and “Naturally occurring sugars” on the nutrition label. Added sugar is what is put into soda and candy to make it sweet, but can also be part of almost every kind of prepared or processed food. Look to cut out as much added sugar as possible.

Why artificial sweeteners aren’t a great swap for getting that sugar fix!

Even if you eat less calories, using sweeteners that don't have calories, like aspartame or stevia, might still make you gain weight. This is surprising, but it happens because these sweeteners trigger an insulin response. This can make you feel hungrier and help your body store fat, especially in your liver.

What are some of the extra names for sugar to look for:

1. Basic Simple Sugars

• Dextrose
• Fructose
• Galactose
• Glucose
• Lactose
• Maltose
• Sucrose

2. Solid or Granulated Sugars:

• Beet sugar
• Brown sugar
• Cane juice crystals
• Cane sugar
• Castor sugar
• Coconut sugar
• Confectioner's sugar (aka, powdered sugar)
• Corn syrup solids
• Crystalline fructose
• Date sugar
• Demerara sugar
• Dextrin
• Diastatic malt
• Ethyl maltol
• Florida crystals
• Golden sugar
• Glucose syrup solids
• Grape sugar
• Icing sugar
• Maltodextrin
• Muscovado sugar
• Panela sugar
• Raw sugar
• Sugar (granulated or table)
• Sucanat
• Turbinado sugar
• Yellow sugar

3. Liquid or Syrup Sugars:

• Agave Nectar/Syrup
• Barley malt
• Blackstrap molasses
• Brown rice syrup
• Buttered sugar/buttercream
• Caramel
• Carob syrup
• Corn syrup
• Evaporated cane juice
• Fruit juice
• Fruit juice concentrate
• Golden syrup
• High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
• Honey
• Invert sugar
• Malt syrup
• Maple syrup
• Molasses
•  Rice syrup
• Refiner's syrup
• Sorghum syrup
• Treacle

Remember, making changes to your diet can be done one step at a time! Talk to your Scene nurse about how you and your family eat, and they will help you make a plan to improve your health bit by bit.

Need help?

Do you need more support in creating and following an asthma action plan? Our care team is here to help. Have you downloaded the app? Send us a message through the Spotlight app for iOS or Spotlight app for Android. If not, call us at (410) 348-1905 or send us an email.

More resources

• Learn more about carbs.
• Be a pro nutrition label reader
• Get advice on balancing carbs
• Sugar 101

The content on this site is not and should not be considered medical advice or a substitute for individual medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always talk to your health care provider(s) for diagnosis and treatment, including information regarding which drugs, therapy, or other treatment may be appropriate for you. Learn more here.

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